How to host a stellar dinner in the great outdoors

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When the weather gets warmer, it’s time to dust off my camping gear and go outside. From local escapes to multi-day treks, there’s a whole world to explore. But just because I’m trading in the comforts of home doesn’t mean I have to sacrifice memorable meals – some of my favorite dining experiences have been under the stars, miles away from any kind of civilization. Whether you are a nature enthusiast novice or a certified explorer, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you have the best time possible. From must-have gear to camp-ready recipes, I’ll break down how to cover all your outdoor cooking basics.

1. Create a game plan

Although I would like to pretend to be a spontaneous person at heart, I am truly a Type A planner through and through. This is especially useful when camping because to have a successful weekend of solid meals in mother nature, you’ll need to do a little planning. First, you’ll need to think about each meal in advance (don’t forget the snacks!) And take into account the amount of days you’ll spend in the wild. This is also the time to think about how you are getting to your destination – camping by car or hiking? – because it will determine the type of meals you can prepare and how much food you can carry. With car camping you can pack more ingredients and make more elaborate recipes, but hiking offers a more out-of-the-box experience. Regardless of the type of camping I am doing, I carry Eddie Bauer’s Bacon 2.0 Pack to pack my essential ingredients as it is light, easy to wear and stylish at the same time. And perhaps most importantly, it fits all of my pantry staples, like olive oil, crumbly salt, and citrus.

2. Get ready

So, let’s talk about tools. To make sure your camping dinner goes smoothly, you need to pack the right equipment. I choose tools that combine utility and space saving, like Eddie Bauer’s handy multi-tool, the detachable barbecue set. Their folding camping pantry is an absolute must for any outdoor vacation – it helps keep all your kitchen needs organized, plus it’s compact and easy to carry. The Bygone backpack cooler has enough space to carry bottles of water, condiments and food for an overnight camping trip, but if you want to keep a weekend’s perishable goods cool, choose the Bygone 30L Convertible Cooler Bag. When it’s time to eat, I usually opt for bamboo tableware for a sustainable (and aesthetically pleasing) option.

Photo by JULIA GARTLAND. PROP STYLIST: SOPHIA PAPPAS. FOOD STYLIST: ERICKA MARTINS.

3. Choose the right recipes

Now that you have the equipment, it’s time for the fun part: choosing the recipes. You don’t have to limit yourself to the standard hot dog and burger fair (although these are always great stand-bys). I look for recipes that can be prepared in advance, are easy to clean and have a lot of flavor. I always do as much prep work at home as possible: dicing onions, measuring cereals, and preparing my take-away vinaigrette ahead of time saves me a step camping and fewer dishes to worry about. Turkey chili can be prepared before the trip and reheated directly over the fire, while something like sausage, peppers, potatoes and onions with a pan can be prepared in front of the fire. When looking for a higher option, I choose salmon skewers with Nigella – these can be assembled at home, packed in a refrigerator, and grilled on your campsite; serve them with something starchy, like potatoes or quinoa pilaf. It is also important to think about what kind of snacks to pack; I like to bring a variety of protein-rich snacks like popcorn “Granola” bar, sweet and spicy pretzels and mix of nuts and apple chips to keep me fueled for the hikes.

4. Don’t forget the drinks

Half the fun of camping is sitting around the fire with a drink in hand as the sun goes down, but first you need to bring plenty of water. Eddie Bauer’s Stanley® Legendary Classic bottle keeps my water ice cold all day. Bonus: This water bottle doubles as a thermos to keep your coffee warm in the morning. When sunset hits the campsite, it’s time to bring out the corkscrew. This wine bottle cooler keeps rosé fresh at the right temperature, without the need for ice. If you’re more of a beer drinker, Eddie Bauer’s Bygone Backpack Cooler is worth investing in, which can easily carry a 12-pack.

Photo by JULIA GARTLAND. PROP STYLIST: SOPHIA PAPPAS. FOOD STYLIST: ERICKA MARTINS.

5. Dress for the occasion

I’ve gone camping enough times to tell you that the main thing that will make or break your trip is proper clothing. I’m talking about layers, sun, rain and wind protection and generally resistant clothing. I will never forget the terrible sunburn I had while hiking in the Angeles National Forest when I was in the blazing sun for three hours without enough cover. Learn from my mistakes and be sure to pack protective gear, like Eddie Bauer’s UPF Guide 2.0 Tee and their UPF Bucket Hat. It goes without saying that when you are properly dressed you can spend your time truly basking in the joys of camping (cooking included!).



What are your camping tips, tricks and recipes? Tell us in the comments!

Our friends at Eddie Bauer have been at the heart of Seattle’s outdoor industry since 1920. After decades of manufacturing weatherproof outerwear, first-rate hiking gear and other essentials, Eddie Bauer’s outdoor experts continue to innovate to meet the needs of adventurers everywhere. Get ready for your next excursion with Eddie Bauer.

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